Saturday Features

The pageantry of our times

  • At its heart, Club 7 attempts to satarise the hedonism and phoniness that plagues today’s society. But in doing so, the play uses worn-out, even offensive, stereotypes that undo every positive message that might have otherwise been drawn
- Timothy Aryal
The play is conceived as a sum of three episodes, all of which take place inside the banquet, Club 7. The episodes might have been different in context but all of them involve the same kind of hedonism, pageantry, and ultimately, the hosts’ duplicity

Apr 28, 2018-A Hindu priest must compulsorily be sneaky and greedy. A man sporting long hair or dreadlocks must be inclined towards alcohol, or worse drugs. A girl wearing a short skirt must be conceited and speak with a superficial accent.

These are stereotypes—stereotypes that have been played and replayed to draw cheap laughs and for character depth (or shallowness) in the Nepali entertainment industry. Much water might have flown under the bridge since these clichés were imagined, yet the archetypes continue to find expression today. Club 7, which is currently on stage at Mandala Theatre, is the latest reminder.

At its heart, Club 7 attempts to satarise the hedonism and pageantry that has enveloped today’s society. But in doing so, the play uses worn-out, even offensive, stereotypes that undo every positive message that might have otherwise been drawn.

The play begins well enough. A socialite is throwing a birthday party for her dog. She has invited a merry bunch of fellow well-to-dos and has also hired a photographer who shoots her photo with every other incoming guest. But from here on, the play goes steadily downhill.

The play is conceived as a sum of three episodes, all of which take place inside the banquet, Club 7. The episodes might have been different in context but all of them involve the same kind of hedonism, pageantry, and ultimately, the hosts’ duplicity.

These episodes would have hit the mark had the play involved characters with a touch of novelty. But in Club 7, there is little that is fresh about the conception of its lead characters.

Take for instance the priest, in the second episode of the play. He is your usual priest that we see frequently in Nepali showbiz—superficial, perfunctory and hungry for money. Then we have a man sporting dreadlocks. He is the first to ask for alcohol as soon as the religious ceremony is over.

In a society that still associates long hair and short skirts with faults in character, the right way to go would have been to advocate that this is not quite the case. But Club 7 seems to revel in said stereotypes.

That said though, the plot of Club 7 is fairly engaging—it’s eventful, if nothing else. The story is original of course, and the play tries to capture the wonders of modernity, which is manifest, ironically, in the character of the priest, who manages to perform two separate religious functions simultaneously, with the help of his phone. Also there’s some novelty in the conception of the character of the artist, played well by Sabin Ghalan, towards the end. Also the play has a lively, vibrant ambience aided by lighting and set design that doesn’t make watching it a chore.

What Club 7 ultimately tries to impart on its viewers might have been noble. But it fails to recognise that the theatre-going audience of Kathmandu has evolved beyond cheap theatrics and stereotypical depictions. Its portrayal of characters like the socialite, the priest, the artist might have drawn rousing laughter in the past, but now they largely fall flat.

If nothing, Club 7 is a reminder that the theatre circuit needs to evolve according to the tastes and sensibilities of its viewership. It’s nice that the play brings to stage an original story, but it misses the chance to leave a mark on the theatregoer’s mind.

Curtain call

2/5

Club 7

Playwrights: Sijan Dahal, Som Nath Khanal

Directors: Dayahang Rai, Rajan Khatiwada

Theatre: Mandala Theatre, Anamnagar

Actors: Sushma Niraula, Rijan Pariyar, Arbind Amatya, Umesh Chaudhary, Mesha Nyaichyai, Kiran Chand, Pramila Khanal, et al.

 

 

Published: 28-04-2018 09:06

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